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TMCNet:  FTC approves health care integration program for Norman

[February 20, 2013]

FTC approves health care integration program for Norman

NORMAN, Feb 20, 2013 (The Oklahoman - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Norman Physician Hospital Organization (NPHO) -- a 19-year-old partnership between Norman Regional Health System and the Norman Physicians Association -- got the green light from the Federal Trade Commission that its plans to create a clinical integration program, with pricing agreements for physician services to control costs and improve care, won't violate anti-competition laws.
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The organization requested the opinion four years ago, Executive Director Gary Clinton said. Last week's ruling, Clinton said, acknowledges that NPHO's programs offer significant value that may lead to improved preventive care and infection rates, reduced medical errors, shortened hospital stays and lower readmission rates, earlier disease detection and elimination of duplicated tests and repetitive completion of registration paperwork.

The Norman Physician Hospital Organization has 280 participating physicians in 38 specialty practice areas.

Federal Trade Commission Assistant Director Markus Meier wrote, "Norman's PHO's proposed clinical integration program offers the potential to create a high degree of interdependence and cooperation among its participating physicians and to generate significant efficiencies in the provision of physician services." The communication and sharing of clinical information between the health system and physicians is made possible through eClinical Works, a sophisticated and secured network to coordinate health information across providers using a connected electronic medical record.

All health care providers can see a patient's complete medical history, which saves time and reduces potential errors during the treatment process, Chief Medical Officer Brian Yeaman said.

Stephen Connery, board chairman of the NPHO, said the local partnership leads the nation in its unique ability to match physicians and hospitals for patient care. "In the NPHO model, the physicians and hospitals are creating a network and quality improvement programs that must first prove better patient outcomes, care coordination and cost containment," Connery said.

Last week's FTC ruling makes NPHO the fourth health care organization in the nation -- the first in Oklahoma -- to receive this favorable opinion, said Kelly Wells, spokeswoman for Norman Regional Health System. The others are MedSouth Denver, Greater Rochester Independent Practice Association and TriState Health Partners in Hagerstown, Md.

___ (c)2013 The Oklahoman Visit The Oklahoman at www.newsok.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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